Five Indian Americans on Forbes’ 2021 list of richest self-made women

Indira Nooyi among 15 newcomers; Jayshree Ullal, Neerja Sethi among record 26 billionaires

Five Indian American women figure among the nation’s richest self-made women in Forbes’ seventh annual ranking with PepsiCo’s former chair and CEO Indra Nooyi joining 15 new comers.

Forbes’ 2021 list released last week saw their fortunes soar 31% to $118 billion, amid a stock market boom.

A record 26 are now billionaires, including Jayshree Ullal, president and CEO of Arista Networks and Neerja Sethi, cofounder of IT consulting and outsourcing firm Syntel.

Two-thirds of the 100 founded or cofounded a company; 26 are CEOs. The cutoff to make the ranks climbed to $225 million, up from $150 million last year

Neha Narkhede, co-founder and former chief technology officer of Confluent and Reshma Shetty, co-founder of Gingko Bioworks are the two other Indian Americans on the list.

Nooyi, 65, who grew up in India and got an MBA from Yale before becoming one of corporate America’s few female CEOs in 2006 is ranked No. 91 with a Net Worth of $290 million.

Read: Meet top three richest Indian American women (July 1, 2021)

Nooyi retired from PepsiCo in 2019 after 24 years with the company, half of which she spent in the top job. As CEO, she thwarted a bid to break up PepsiCo, nearly doubled sales and introduced healthier products and environmentally friendly practices.

Her fortune stems from stock she was granted while working at PepsiCo. Nooyi joined the board of Amazon in 2019.

Born in London and raised in India, Jayshree Ullal, 60, with a net Worth of $1.7 billion is ranked No. 16.

One of America’s wealthiest female executives, she has been president and CEO of Arista Networks, a computer networking firm, since 2008.

Ullal joined the board of directors of Snowflake, a cloud computing company that went public in September 2020.

The publicly-traded company recorded revenue of $2.3 billion in 2020, a decrease of nearly 4% compared to fiscal year 2019.

Ullal owns about 5% of Arista’s stock, some of which is earmarked for her two children, niece and nephew.

In August 2018, Arista settled a multi-year patent infringement battle with Cisco, Ullal’s former employer, agreeing to pay Cisco $400 million.

Neerja Sethi, 66, with a Net Worth of $1 billion is ranked No. 26. She cofounded IT consulting and outsourcing firm Syntel with her husband Bharat Desai in 1980 in their apartment in Troy, Michigan.

French IT firm Atos SE bought Syntel for $3.4 billion in October 2018. Sethi got an estimated $510 million for her stake.

Sethi, who had served as an executive at Syntel since 1980, did not join Atos after the acquisition.

Sethi met her husband in the US while working for pioneering IT firm Tata Consulting Services, which they attempted to emulate.

The couple started the business with an initial investment of just $2,000, according to Forbes.

Neha Narkhede, 36, who grew up in Pune, India, is ranked No. 29 with a Net Worth of $925 million. She is cofounder and former chief technology officer of cloud company Confluent.

As a LinkedIn software engineer, she helped develop the open source messaging system Apache Kafka to handle the networking site’s huge influx of data.

In 2014, she and two LinkedIn colleagues left to found Confluent, which helps organizations process large amounts of data on Apache Kafka.

Read: America’s Richest Self-Made Women Has Five Indian-Americans (August 13, 2021)

The $237 million (revenues) company went public in June 2021 at a $9.1 billion valuation; she and her family own around 8%.

She studied Computer Science at Georgia Tech and today advises numerous technology startups.

Reshma Shetty, 41, with a Net Worth of $750million is ranked No 39. She cofounded Gingko Bioworks, a synthetic biotechnology company, in 2009 with four others, including her husband Barry Canton.

Shetty received a PhD in biological engineering at MIT, where she met Ginkgo Bioworks’ other cofounders.
Ginkgo, named after a dinosaur-era tree, uses data analytics and robotics to speed up the process of discovering and making new organisms.

Ginkgo Bioworks, whose investors include T. Rowe Price and Bill Gates’ Cascade Investments, is slated to go public in a $17.5 billion SPAC deal.

As Covid-19 spread, the company opened its Boston facilities for research into the coronavirus and to ramp up testing for the disease, according to Forbes.

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